Latest Entries »

Firearm Safety

gun safety

Although the person with Alzheimer’s might have once been able to handle a gun, serious accidents can occur. The use of firearms requires complex mental skills that are usually lost in early dementia.

Statistics

  • One half of all American homes have one or more firearms.
  • Studies indicate that physically aggressive behavior has been found to occur in 30 to 50 percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease. The presence of firearms could contribute to the serious consequences of such behavior. Assault by persons with dementia can result in psychiatric hospitalization.
  • Studies also found that in more than 60 percent of the homes where guns were present, family members reported that the guns were loaded or that they were unaware of their loaded status. This was despite dementia severity, severity of depression, or perceived incompetence of the person with dementia living in the household.

Suggested gun safety tips

  • Although a person with Alzheimer’s might have once been able to handle a gun, serious accidents can occur. The use of firearms requires complex mental skills that are affected by dementia.
  • Guns must be put in a safe place. The best course of action is to lock the gun in a cabinet or drawer, or remove the gun from the house. Don’t allow the patient unsupervised access to a gun.
  • It is not sufficient just to unload guns and rifles or place a trigger lock on them.
  • Even without a gun, ammunition is still dangerous if subjected to the right conditions: a fireplace, stove, furnace, oven, microwave oven, disposal, hammer, etc. Remove weapons and ammunition.
  • Ask for outside assistance in talking with your loved one. If necessary, ask your doctor or clergy person to explain to the affected person’s hunting buddies that hunting is now too dangerous for him. Ask local police or sheriff’s department if they can help dispose of a gun or rifle if you do not know how to do so.
  • As with all such issues, the person with dementia should be involved as much as possible in the decision to remove or lock-up a gun.

Possible scenarios

  • Your family member accidentally happens upon an unloaded gun. He realizes that he should give it to you immediately. Off he goes looking for you, carrying the gun and walking down the corridor of your condominium or apartment complex. What would the neighbors think? What would the police do, maybe not realizing that your family member has Alzheimer’s disease?
  • The same scenario could happen with knives or other weapon collections, even if they are far from the ammunition that would make them operable. Also consider toy guns that look real enough to be convincing, even to the police, or real pistols with locks that can still be picked up and carried.

Bathing & Alzheimer’s

bath_safety_dementia_300x

Bathing is a necessary aspect of life. However, when someone is caring for a loved one affected by a progressive dementia like Alzheimer’s, bathing can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Below are some reasons why difficulties may occur during the bathing task, and also some tips on how to overcome these challenges.

Reasons for resisting bathing:

  • May not know what bathing is for
  • May feel afraid or cold
  • May experience discomfort at the lack of modesty
  • May have had a traumatic experience related to water (e.g., drowning, burns from scalding water)

Tips to help with bathing:

  • Have toiletries, towels and washcloths available in advance to make the bathing process easier
  • Keep the room temperature warm and reduce bright lights
  • Make the person feel in-control — involve and coach through each step of the bathing process
  • Experiment to determine if the person prefers showers or tub baths and what time of day is best
  • Respect the person’s dignity — hold a towel in front of the body, both in and out of the shower
  • Use a washcloth to soap and rinse hair in the sink; reduces the amount of water on the person’s face
  • If spousal caregiver, you may need to shower together
  • If not working, try bathing later or on another day

Other considerations:

  • Bathing habits and preferences (time of day, bath vs. shower, favorite products)
  • Physical limitations that might cause bathing to be uncomfortable (e.g. arthritis)
  • Cognitive level and behavioral impairments
  • Level of comfort/familiarity with assistant

Making the bathroom safe:

It’s important to make the bathroom as safe and comfortable as possible. Install grab bars, place non-skid mats on floors, watch for puddles and lower thermostat on your hot-water heater to prevent scalding injuries. Also, take care to never leave the person with dementia alone in the bathroom, use products made of non-breakable materials, and keep sharp objects (i.e. tweezers, scissors) out of reach.

traveling

The summer season is almost upon us, and for many, this is the time of year to let our hair down and take that vacay! For those that are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, however, the challenges associated with traveling can be daunting. Below are some tips and strategies for making your next excursion as stress and worry-free as possible.

Tips for a calm traveling experience:

  • Plan ahead
  • Learn to recognize the warning signs of anxiety and agitation and have a plan to address them. Discuss this plan with the person with dementia.
  • Try not to overload the person with a lot of directions or too much information.

General travel considerations:

  • Environmental changes can trigger wandering or confusion. Enroll in MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with dementia who wander or have a medical emergency. Call 888.572.8566 or visit alz.org/safety to enroll. Those already enrolled should notify MedicAlert + Safe Return of travel plans.
  • It may be helpful to stick with the familiar. Travel to known destinations that involve as few changes in daily routine as possible.
  • Evaluate options for the best mode of travel. Based on needs, abilities, safety and preferences, decide what would provide the most comfort and the least anxiety.
  • When selecting destinations, consider those that have easy access to emergency health services and pharmacies.
  • Consider the needs and desires of the person with dementia as you plan your trip; elaborate sightseeing trips or complicated tours may cause anxiety and confusion.
  • If you will be staying in a hotel, consider informing the staff ahead of time of your specific needs so they can be prepared to assist you.
  • Have a backup plan in case your trip needs to change unexpectedly.
  • Travel during the time of day that is best for the person. For example, if he or she is more agitated in the late afternoon, try to avoid traveling at this time.

What to keep in mind for visits to family and friends:

Be sure to prepare friends or family members for the visit by explaining dementia and the changes it may have caused. Go over any special needs and explain that the visit could be short or that you may need to change activities on short notice. Some additional considerations:

  • It may be helpful to stay as close to your normal routine as possible. For example, bathing and eating times should be on a similar schedule to that followed at home. Eating in familiar settings, such as at a dining room table, may be less confusing than eating in a crowded restaurant.
  • Be realistic about abilities and limitations. Allow for extra time when scheduling activities.

Suggestions for air travel:

Moving through an airport requires focus and attention, as the level of activity can be distracting, overwhelming and difficult to understand. Please consider the following when traveling by air:

  • Avoid scheduling flights that require tight connections.
  • Even if walking is not difficult, consider requesting a wheelchair so that an airport employee is assigned to help you get from place to place. Most airlines ask for at least 48 hours of notice.
  • Contact the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at least 72 hours prior to travel for information about what to expect during the security screening. While at the airport, remind the person what he or she can expect and inform the TSA agent at the security checkpoint that the person has dementia.
  • Do not hesitate to ask for assistance from airport employees and in-flight crew members.
  • If the person needs help using the restroom, look for companion care bathrooms so you can more easily assist.
  • Stay with the person at all times.

 

Asian grandparents and grandchild

Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia often involves a team of people. Whether you help provide the daily care (e.g., assisting with meals and bathing), participate in the decision making (e.g., making care arrangements and legal and financial plans) or you simply care about a person with the disease — there’s much to do and plenty to know. But it doesn’t have to be a lot of work to find the resources and support you need. The Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center — alz.org/care — can help.

Check out any of the online resources below for more information.

ALZConnected

A social networking community where people with Alzheimer’s and related dementia, caregivers and others affected by the disease can share questions, experiences and practical tips via message boards or create private groups organized around specific topics.

Alzheimer’s Navigator

An interactive online tool for people living with dementia and those who participate in providing care and making care-related decisions. This assessment tool evaluates needs, outlines action steps and links the user to Alzheimer’s Association chapter programs and local services.

Community Resource Finder

A comprehensive database of local programs and services, housing and care options, and legal experts all in one location, allowing users to quickly search and find access and support.

Care Team Calendar

A free, personalized online tool, powered by Lotsa Helping Hands, that makes it easy to organize family and friends who want to help with caregiving and share activities and information among the care team.

 

 

Join teams from around the world on June 21, The Longest Day®, to honor the strength, passion and endurance of those facing Alzheimer’s disease with a day of activity. Select an activity you love, from swing dancing to swimming, and make an impact by raising funds and awareness to advance the efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. Register by June 11 to receive your participant kit in time for The Longest Day.

 

???????????????????????

 

 

 

brain

Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

The Alzheimer’s Association is moving our awareness month from September to June. This new month will be called Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month (ABAM).— a time to shine a purple light for the millions of individuals world-wide and all the family members and caregivers locally affected by Alzheimer’s disease. We need your help to honor those struggling with this disease every day by mobilizing friends, families, neighbors, co-workers and customers to help bring an end to Alzheimer’s disease. The time is now to commit to going purple during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month (ABAM). The end of Alzheimer’s starts now. The End of Alzheimer’s Starts with YOU.

Promote

  • Turn Facebook purple by changing your profile picture to our END ALZicon.
  • Turn your office, school or place of worship purple for the month of June. 
  • Show the power of purple by introducing and/or utilizing a purple product. 

 

  *Here’s how to change your profile picture in three easy steps.1. Right click on the END ALZicon and save to your computer.

2. Log into your Facebook account. Move your cursor over your current profile picture and select “Change Picture.” 

3. Use the browse function to locate and upload the END ALZgraphic.

Declare

  • Announce your commitment to ending Alzheimer’s through social media and internal communications. 

Educate

The Memories Project

It has been just over a month since “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias” was released. So far, the demand has been overwhelming, the reviews extremely positive, and a second printing has been ordered!

Chicken Soup For the Soul: Living With Alzheimer's and Other Dementias

Since I was fortunate enough to be selected as a contributor, I have a few extra copies available. Starting today at noon ET, through Friday noon ET, you can enter a raffle for a chance to receive a complimentary copy of “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias.”

Note: You must click on the Rafflecopter link below to be registered for the contest. Rafflecopter is a popular, safe contest platform. You can login through Facebook or with an email address. Follow the prompts on the form to enter the raffle.

Enter the book giveaway

View original post

sad senior man

As the population ages, the issue of elder abuse becomes more and more prevalent. Elder mistreatment (i.e. abuse and neglect) is defined as intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (whether or not harm is intended) to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder. This includes failure by a caregiver to satisfy the elder’s basic needs or to protect the elder from harm.

Unfortunately, we simply do not know for certain how many people are suffering from elder abuse and neglect. It appears that female elders are abused at a higher rate than males and that the older one is, the more likely one is to be abused.

Signs of elder abuse may be missed by professionals working with older Americans because of lack of training on detecting abuse. The elderly may be reluctant to report abuse themselves because of fear of retaliation, lack of physical and/or cognitive ability to report, or because they don’t want to get the abuser (90% of whom are family members) in trouble.

fhe022

WARNING SIGNS OF ELDER ABUSE

• Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect or mistreatment.

• Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.

• Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.

• Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.

• Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.

• Behavior such as belittling, threats and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.

• Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs.

• It’s important to remain alert. The suffering is often in silence. If you notice changes in personality, behavior or physical condition, you should start to question what is going on.

PREVENTING ELDER ABUSE

• Learn when and how to report abuse.

• Get help for commonly seen “tricky situations” involving possible abuse of elders and adults with disabilities.

• Learn about the agencies and organizations that respond to reports of abuse.

•Learn what some communities and multidisciplinary teams are doing to prevent abuse from occurring.

• Explore how the many fields and organizations that serve elders and adults with disabilities may play a role in abuse intervention and prevention.

What to learn more about elder abuse? Visit the National Center on Elder Abuse website by clicking here.

physicial therapy rehab

Every year, nearly 1/3 of all older adults will suffer from some type of fall. Older adults with dementia, however, are more than twice as likely to fall than those without cognitive impairment. Their falls may also be more severe, perhaps resulting in serious bone fractures, hospitalization, or life-threatening injuries. Persons with dementia that suffer from a fall at home are more likely to be admitted into some type of institutional care. In addition, the cost of treating and rehabilitating seniors that have fallen has sky-rocketed in recent years (Montero-Odasso, 2012).

walking down a hall

Researcher continue to study the most helpful methods for reducing risk of falls and preventing injury in those with dementia. Below are some tips that may be helpful in managing fall risk:

  • Implement a regular exercise program to maintain muscle and joint strength
  • Work with the person’s physician(s) to ensure that medication are not causing adverse side effects that could contribute to falls (e.g. dizziness, vertigo)
  • Maintain a regular toileting schedule for the person
  • Anticipate the person’s needs
  • Have a knowledge for the person’s likes, dislikes, routine, preferences, etc.
  • Ensure that clothing and shoes fit properly and are in good condition. Avoid slippers with no supportive backing, pants that are too long for the person, etc.
  • Clearly label key places in the home or residence, such as the bathroom or bedroom, even if the person has lived there for some time.
  • Ensure that the environment is clutter-free. Remove throw rugs that could slip beneath the person.
  • Create a visible pathway from the bedroom to the bathroom, particularly at night. Consider using a bedside commode.
  • If falling in bed is a concern, consider using lowering the mattress directly onto the floor. Do not install bed rails as this could increase the person’s agitation and restlessness. Many individuals with dementia may view bed rails as a sign that they are expected to be incontinent, or they perceive the rails as an obstacle to overcome, increasing the height of their fall. The person could become fatally injured if their head were to get caught between the rails.
  • Make sure the bathroom is not conducive for falls.  Remove clutter, use grab bars, and non-skid strip. A shower chair may be helpful.
  • Use color contrast where appropriate – for instance, a person may not see a white toilet in front of a white wall. Consider using a brightly colored toilet seat to draw the person’s attention.
  • Make sure there is ample lighting in well traversed areas.
  • Provide places for the person to stop and rest, if walking on a long hallway or path.
  • Ensure the person wears sensory aids, such as glasses or hearing aids, if needed.

 

References

Montero-Odasso, M. M. (2012). Gait and Cognition: A Complementary Approach to Understanding Brain Function and the Risk of Falling. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society60(11), 2127-2136.

van Doorn, C. (2003). Dementia as a Risk Factor for Falls and Fall Injuries Among Nursing Home Residents. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society51(9), 1213-1218.